Novato Theater Presents THE LION IN THE WINTER Tonight
Novato Theater Company opens its new season in its brand-new venue with a smashing historical drama, James Goldman's The Lion in Winter, a play full of plots, counterplots and unforgettable characters. Lion is directed by award-winning director Kris Neely and features Craig Christiansen as King Henry II of England and Maxine Sattizahn as Eleanor of Aquitaine. Assistant Director is Michael Walraven. NTC Executive Producer is Janelle Ponte.
The Lion in Winter opens tonight, August 30 and runs through September 22 at the new Novato Playhouse just off Highway 101 at 5420 Nave Drive. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., Sundays at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $12-$25 at (415) 883-4498. www.novatotheatercompany.org, Plenty of free parking.
The Lion in Winter is an engrossing historical drama depicting the personal and political conflicts of Henry II of England, his wifeEleanor of Aquitaine, their children and their guests during Christmas, 1183. On display is one of history's most powerful - and dysfunctional - families.
The deliciously convoluted story concerns the gamesmanship between Henry, Eleanor, whom Henry has imprisoned for ten years, their three surviving sons Richard, Geoffrey, and John, and their Christmas Court guest, the King of France, Philip II, who was the son of Eleanor's ex-husband, Louis VII of France (by his third wife, Adelaide). Also involved is Philip's half-sister Alais, who has been at court since she was betrothed to Richard at age eight, but has since become Henry's mistress.
It is palace intrigue and politics at the highest level.
Cast of the NTC Production of The Lion in Winter
Henry II, King of England Craig Christiansen
Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of England Maxine Sattizahn
Alais Capet, Henry's Mistress Brandice Thompson
Richard Lionheart, oldest son Jeff Taylor
Geoffrey, middle son Kurt Gunderson
John, youngest son Yver Northrum
Matilda, daughter of Henry & Eleanor Hannah Jester
Philip II, King of France TBD
Having such a durable, intricate story to work with calls for actors who don't just get onstage and move around, mouthing lines when it's their turn to speak. Rather, to truly deliver a quality night of theater, this play calls for actors who can dissect each line and determine the motivation behind every word, every gesture, and every nuance. As an ensemble, the cast, and my talented Assistant Director Michael Walraven and I, did just that.
Over a two week period we sat together and determined a motivation and objective for every single line in the script. Sometimes taking the line apart a word at a time to determine the core of what the playwright had in mind. This is particularly challenging in The Lion in Winter because, although it is set in 1183, Mr. Goldman chose to use many contemporary phrases and words. The process was, by turns, fascinating, fun, tough, a lively debate, funny, and a graduate class in ensemble cooperation and acting.